Compare and Contrast: How Stuff and The NZ Herald covered the same story

Two different media organisations and two different approaches to a story. One was accurate, the other was not. Both wrote about a former Auckland teacher who held fake exams at St Peter’s College and was then found guilty of serious misconduct.

This is how Stuff covered the news story:

They used this photo and headline:

Screenshot of Stuff article-Whaleoil

This was Stuff’s introductory paragraph:

A former deputy principal held fake exams at an Auckland college, then hid students’ answer papers and lied about their whereabouts.

James Haggett taught at St Peter’s College, a Catholic boys’ school in the upmarket Auckland suburb of Epsom, from 2007 to 2014.

He moved back to the United Kingdom, where he was a resident, in 2015 after the Education Council’s Complaints Assessment Committee launched an investigation into his behaviour.


In contrast, the NZ Herald article about the same news story had a heading that said

“Former Charter School Principal deregistered”.

They used this photo:

Screenshot from NZ Herald-Whaleoil

This was their introductory paragraph:

A former deputy headmaster has been struck off the teachers register for fabricating an examination at his old school, St Peter’s College in Auckland.

James Haggett, who now lives in Britain, resigned as founding principal of the charter school Middle School West Auckland on the students’ first day at the new school in February 2015 after the school became aware that his actions at St Peter’s were being investigated.

-NZ Herald

The headline is deliberately misleading as anyone who read the headline would believe that a Charter School Principal had been de registered and that the offending had happened at a Charter school.

After the Charter school mentioned in both the headline and the article complained the NZ Herald changed the headline to “Teacher deregistered for fabricating exam at St Peter’s College”

They did not change the contents of the article however which still has a Charter school angle even though he was never officially a Charter School Principal. The photo they use of the teacher was taken at the Charter School. They didn’t employ him once his past was revealed.

The Charter school, in fact, were very poorly served by the teacher’s former employer as despite being aware of acknowledged serious misconduct the school did not put in a mandatory report leading up to or after his resignation in August of 2014. They waited until December 2014. They also signed a nondisclosure agreement with him.

When the Charter school asked the teacher’s former Principal for a reference he did not reply. A senior staff member, however, did respond and informed them that they had nothing to disclose that could have a negative bearing on the applicant and that their school would be more than happy to re-employ him.

In other words, the Charter school were hoodwinked into offering him a position which he resigned from as soon as the situation was disclosed. He did not work a single school day for the Charter school and would not have been offered the position if the school hadn’t been misled in the first place.

It is inaccurate for the NZ Herald to link the Charter school to this teacher with their original headline. Their introductory paragraph and photo continue to link this teacher’s offending to a school that had nothing to do with his offending.

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If you agree with me that’s nice but what I really want to achieve is to make you question the status quo. Look between the lines, do your own research. Do not be a passive observer in this game we call life.